Helping to train priests in Africa

The Rev David Oxtoby, who has been lecturing students in South Africa. ANL-141009-181122001
The Rev David Oxtoby, who has been lecturing students in South Africa. ANL-141009-181122001
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Churchgoers in Sutton Bridge and Tydd St Mary raised £700 to help train priests in Africa – and their own priest, the Rev David Oxtoby, has just returned from South Africa after lecturing at Baberton’s Back to the Bible College.

Mr Oxtoby (41) says the money raised by congregations at St Matthew’s and St Mary’s will pay for six people from across Afica to train as pastors, ministers or missionaries at Baberton for a year.

He’s been out to the college, near the Kruger National Park, three times since 2011 and now hopes some of his parishioners may be able to join him on future visits.

Mr Oxtoby’s latest visit lasted a fortnight and he spent the whole time working with students, but previous trips have seen him leading worship at a prison and collecting much needed surplus food from farms and supermarkets to feed the students.

He said people in Africa live by their faith because they rely on God quite literally for their daily bread, as taught in The Lord’s Prayer.

“It’s a real living by faith experience and that comes out in their conversation and worship,” he said.

Mr Oxtoby finds that to be in stark contrast to western attitudes where “it’s all about self sufficiency” – rather than survival – and there’s less reliance on God.

He hopes a small team from his parishes will visit the college in future to help with things like building work or gardening.

“They have a huge garden and try to grow their own produce to save costs,” said Mr Oxtoby.

He was first invited to help at Baberton while he was at Cambridge working for his theology degree.